One of the biggest reasons the Tennessee Vols went 7-5 this year is because of the culture change that took place under Josh Heupel.
Tennessee’s culture was a disaster under previous head coach Jeremy Pruitt. We’ve heard various UT players talk about the militaristic atmosphere under Pruitt.
The atmosphere under Heupel is much different. Players are still expected to work hard, but they’re also having fun. As a result, players are excited to be at practice. They want to be at the football facility as often as possible.
Heupel certainly deserves some credit for the culture change.
But Heupel isn’t looking to take any credit. In fact, he actually feels “indebted” to Tennessee’s veteran players for making the culture change possible.
“For Alontae (Taylor), for a lot of them, or all of them really, I’m grateful, indebted to them in a lot of ways,” said Heupel after Tennessee’s win over Vanderbilt on Saturday. “Their buy-in and being great leaders and guys that communicate. It’s a group with seniors that is really rare, their ability to communicate. I say that from the first moment that I got here on campus — what was working, what wasn’t, what was broken, what was important to them. That laid a lot of the foundation of the groundwork of how we move forward.”
It’s obvious that Heupel doesn’t have a massive ego. He doesn’t make things about himself. He doesn’t make excuses or try to take all the credit. Heupel makes it about the players — in a positive way.
Heupel trusts his players, which is something that UT wide receiver Cedric Tillman noted on Saturday evening.
“The biggest thing is that Heupel trusts all his players,” explained Tillman. “He believes in all of his players.”
It’s easy to see why players enjoy playing for Heupel so much.
Featured image via Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK